tv National Historic Preservation Act 50th Anniversary CSPAN October 16, 2016 9:10pm-9:45pm EDT
your seats at 10:55 please. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: the national historic preservation act between -- became law. to mark the anniversary, the u.s. capitol visitor center hosted an event with armor director robert stanton. this is about 30 minutes. >> good morning. welcome to the united states capitol visitor center. my name is beth clemens, and i have the pleasure of being the visitor center's chief executive officer. we are delighted to have you here today as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national historical preservation act. our exhibits and education team have planned a full day of activities, and i do hope you can fit those into your schedule
, as many of those as possible. on december 2 in 2008, nearly eight years ago, we opened our doors to the public, and we have welcomed over 17 million visitors to the capital. one of the themes that we share with those visitors is the role of the architect of the capitol. capitol isct of the the steward of the historic buildings and grounds on capitol hill. congress left philadelphia and moved into approximately 25,000 square feet. that is the original north wing of the capital. today, and with the help of a team of 2300 employees, the responsibilities of the architect of the capitol include a stewardship of nearly 17.4 million square feet of building space, the care and maintenance of hundreds of acres, thousands of trees and plantings, and the
preservation of countless artistic and historical treasures. leading this team is the 11th architect of the capitol, the , whoable stephen t. ayers i will now invite to speak to you about the national historic preservation act of 1966. please join me in welcoming mr. stephen ayers, architect of the capitol. >> thank you so much, beth, and good morning everyone. welcome to preservation day at the united states capitol. we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the national historic preservation act. i don't know about you, but i can think of no better place to honor such a historic piece of legislation than right here in the shadow of the capitol dome, just steps away from the two houses of congress that passed this important piece of
legislation for our great country. and i want to speak today for just a minute about what i find so personally important about the national historic preservation act of 1966. of course, the nation already 1906he antiquities act of and the historic sites act of 1935, and these were two very important steps on the path to understanding the significance of preservation. , i believe, focused on buildings and sites and monuments and important objects -- all important, but missing elements that enable us to more fully and accurately reflect what defines a place. and it was this national historic preservation act of
1966, which is on display right here in a hall of the capitol visitor center -- you will find it right over there -- hopefully you can see it. it was this act that not only sought to protect our nation's's most treasured buildings, but perhaps more importantly, recognize and place great value on people and communities and culture. that often it is the stories and the events and , both pastd feelings and present, that make a play special. -- a place special. it is these elements that create special meaning for people and communities, and i call this the enlightenment of preservation, a much more informed and enlightened understanding of what makes a place special and
worth preserving. and iselle i would like to thank all of you -- and if so i would like to thank all of you. i would like all of you to think for a moment about the first time you saw the capitol dome. perhaps it was from the west as you were walking up and you passed by the summer house on the west front of the capital, where travelers of yesteryear stopped to rest as they climbed the hill in approach the capital. and you can see it through a ascket of trees, some as old landscape architect frederick olmsted himself. and your eyes are focused on the gleaming dome and perhaps the statue of freedom that sits atop seeminglywhich is beckoning you to come closer and track up the hill. but surely as you approached, not only did you see this great building and great sculpture that sits atop, but you also thought about what happens here
and what you have read about this place and what people have told you about the place, the stories you have heard and read. and it is all of this that make this play special -- place special and worth preserving. their at the capital, we do play homage to those this tangible and intangible history every day in our stewardship role. our team uses both modern and historic tradecraft to care for this capitol campus. i know our decorative artist specialize in preserving the great artwork that is here using techniques from 100 to 150 years ago. of course, our most tangible efforts recently have been the restoration of the capitol dome.
i would like to say -- and i believe that we executed this project with integrity, and i know all of you preservationists out there will understand what i mean by integrity. we are taking great care to preserve the historic fabric of this great dome by salvaging pieces of the dome and reusing them to the extent we can, and replacing -- instead of replacing ornamentation, we are repairing it and using as much material as possible, learning from previous repair techniques and incorporating them and in -- and using current day technology. we are also capturing the images and stories of the people that have come across this great country to work on the capitol dome, and making all of that available. it is again not just the
building, but it is the stories and events and history and memories that are made and continue to be shared that make such a place. not only did the historic preservation act, signed by lyndon johnson, of course, require federal agencies to evaluate -- to fully evaluate historic properties, but it also created the national register of historic places and our partner for today, the president's advisory council on historic preservation. i'm delighted to be able to serve on this council. i also currently chair the federal agency committee's programs, so thank you to the advisory council for being our partner today, and a great partner your -- you are. i know all of you love history, as do i, and it is my duty and
honor as architect of the of our to preserve much history here on capitol hill for future generations. i assure you, it is a labor of love. that is not a job, it is a passion that excites me every single day as i come to work. thank you for joining us for this daylong event to highlight our stewardship role, the importance of place, and how we work every day to inspire those 17 million people that the best climates talked about that come through that front door every year, inspiring them about the work that we do and about this great place. gentlemen, it and is my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, and a good friend of mine that i met while
serving on the advisory council for historic preservation -- mr. bob stanton. bob was unanimously confirmed by the united states senate as the 15th director of the national 1997 and served in that capacity until january of 2001. since the beginning of his career in 1962 -- the year i was born, bob -- [laughter] beginning his career in 1962 as a park ranger at the grand teton national park in wyoming, he has dedicated his life's work to improving the preservation and management of the nation's rich and diverse natural and cultural resources. bob continues to be actively engaged with a number of national con summation --
national conservation organizations and initiatives, having cofounded the african-american experience find of the national park foundation. he is and has been a nationally recognized through numerous awards and citations for his outstanding public service and leadership in conservation and historic preservation. and youth programs, and most recently, he participated in the joint advisory council on historic preservation and national park service journey through hallowed ground partnership initiative titled, of the student, by the student, and for the student at harpers ferry national historical park. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the honorable robert g stanton. [applause]
robert stanton: it has been stated that the strength and character of the nation is determined by how it cares for its people, its natural and cultural heritage. good morning. , steve, forank you that very gracious introduction, and to ms. clemons. i bring you greetings on behalf of the chairman of the advisory council on historic reservation, wayne donaldson. many of our colleagues and friends and supporters are with us for this shall occasion -- this special occasion, and they congratulate you, stephen, on your stellar leadership as architect of the capitol and your kind invitation to partner
with you on this special occasion. it has to be noted that one could easily grow accustomed to the surroundings. , cannot covet them too much since you are a member of the other branch of government, but nevertheless, we are welcome to be here. stephen mentioned the importance of pausing for a moment to reflect on the journey that we have traveled the past 50 years. that we have the responsibility individually and collectively to preserve the richness of this nation. and in that light, i do have a few remarks that i will share with you. when i accepted the invitation on behalf of our chairman and responded to stephen and said yes, i will be there, i
confirmed with him in terms of the program, the audience, and bob,have you, and he said, there is only one thing i would advise you on, is that i would hope you would adhere to those innate characteristics for which all native texans are known -- simply this, brevity and humility, and in that order. [laughter] robert stanton: i will try to be brief. oftalk about the importance historic preservation and the importance of your national park service amma where i have third of aost a century of my life, it is difficult to be humble and certainly difficult to be brief, that i will attempt to adhere to that. there are many members of the advisory council staff who are here, along with yours truly, and our executive director who
want to interact with you and the visiting public. just south of the rotunda in the capital, you will find a room housing statues of many men and women who helped make this country as great as it is -- samuel adams, dwight eisenhower, helen keller. but there is one figure that means a great deal to me, lady 1955 to the courage in defy the doctrine of separate but equal and transportation and other accommodations. in that fateful year, she chose not to relinquish her seat to a white gentleman. and therefore, that ignited a i-26st, ultimately led by your old baptist minister in montgomery, alabama -- none
other than martin luther king jr. and with so many protests following involving so many thousands of children, students, led eventually to president 1964 signing the civil rights act revoking the doctrine established by the that yes,urt in 1896 as a nation, we should and could live as separate buddy will citizens -- as a separate but equal citizens. that also abolished jim crow laws. it reversed the practice of discrimination in employment, the inaccessibility to public places.
that was a major piece of legislation in 1964. for the very first time in my 23 years in my home state of texas, i could enter the front door to order a cup of coffee where my mother served as a short order cook. i have seen a lot of that has occurred in this country, and consistent with that was our embrace of our collective heritage that stevens ultimately spoke about -- stephen so eloquently spoke about. termsthe opportunity, in of my first official introduction to conservation and preservation, many years before a lot of you were a twinkle in your parents eyes, 54 years ago as a seasonal ranger in the grand teton national park. and then became a career employee in 1966. all of that was due to the
courageous leadership of the young secretary of the interior appointed by an even younger president of the united states, john f. kennedy. he do that before the civil rights act of 1964, appointed yours truly as a seasonal ranger. i have seen a lot that has thatned, and it so happens i was in the national office of the park service as a young career, when on october 15, president johnson signed the national historic preservation act. so that act has been a part of my entire career with the federal government. i cannot talk about historic preservation without going just a little bit into the national park service. i think some of you can understand, some might even forgive me for doing this, but having been associated for so many years, it is hard to get away from it, although i have not been officially with the park service for the past 16 years.
all of us know that the national park service administrators now, through the most recent use of the antiquities act, again as stephen recognized, by president 415 areasre are now administered by your national park service. ,very state has a park unit american samoa, long, u.s. virgin islands, puerto rico, and certainly here in our nation's's capital. , more thanly enough two thirds of those areas speak to our development as a people and as a nation. they are our cultural resources. inortunately, some people their own minds think that when we talk about national park area it is primarily for large, scenic natural wonders. that two thirds of the areas are consistent with the spirit of
the historic preservation act, speaking to us as a people and a nation. in addition to administering those 413 areas, the national park service has and the national registry of historic places. ands a magnificent job taking care of those responsibilities. i share with you briefly my own experiences. that experience is mirrored by the 300 million citizens. each of us has our own heritage. each of us has our own story to tell. there is not one version of history. different versions of our past should be remembered and preserved, because they mean different things to you and me. our history is part of who we are, who we want to be, and who we should be.
the national historical preservation act was written to ensure we save those places that mark the history and the rich tapestry of america. it would not be appropriate for me to not reference that the historic preservation act grew out of the recognition that we had to reverse some practices here in this country. we were heavily moving, after world war ii, with ,nfrastructure improvements applying new concepts of how our cities and communities should be developed. we coined the concept of urban renewal. many properties and scarred many places that are dear to us. urban orin the name of new, we wiped those places clean.
with the advent 60 years ago of a structure or facility that each of us use every day -- the interstate highway system. think about it. , andsive development perhaps in the 50's when it was , we could protect the resources of our cultural resources to --. the conference took all of those into consideration, and came up with a comprehensive report with the assistance of the national trust of historic reservation, the national park service, the department of the interior, other did -- other federal agencies, and published a very moving report about how with it lay the rich, and
framework for the 1966 national historic preservation act, a heritage so rich that if we did not reserve -- reverse the course, the richness would be tarnished, and perhaps lost forever. we owe a great deal of thanks to those visionaries back in the 60's who said that we need to take an action on behalf of the american people and the nation, to recognize the importance of our cultural heritage. before 1966, historic preservation was understood in one-dimensional terms. there is a broader view, which has led to more complex a store preservation movements. whether then save -- rather than safe place with national significance, the national register of historic places protects holdings, sites,
significant landscapes, and other important cultural resources at the state and local jurisdiction. like the american culture it mirrors, historic preservation today is informed and shaped by diversity of our nation. a nation of over 300 million, and it is growing daily. the amendment of the act in the 90's gave the american indians there formally overlooked place in the national historic preservation framework. tremendous richness of the american people are beginning to fully embrace. we have had may severity -- mesa verde in the park system. now there's more sensitivity of the richness and our obligation to do what we can do to protect
and honor those sacred places. along with commemorating the bravery depicted in the illegitimate memorial -- the iwo jima memorial in virginia, we sitehave a memorial at the the first african americans recruited for the marines were trained for world war ii, breaking down the various for those who followed. certainly to the courageous relate -- courageous leadership of president truman, his to integrateer military services. just of the road is a preserved old soldiers home. there was recently discovered an office where the future founder of the american red cross helped
write tens of thousands of letters to loved ones and those who served in the u.s. civil war. her legacies commemorated in your national system with the clara barton national historic site in maryland. all of these sites we are discussing our featured on recently just that recently published postcards at the store preservation. table with thee advisory council representatives shortly outside, and pick up a postcard, write a note to your family or two friends, and say i was there and personally pick that up there for you. americans realize the national history is more complex and vastly rich than that which was discussed and taught in the past. it will only take a moment to look at all caps like dust an
old textbook to know the full breadth of the american spirit was not recorded in some of our text books. we celebrate this 50 years on, and we have come a long way. there is much work to be done. we are taking a look at where we might go over the next 50 years. certainly a behalf donaldson, i invite each of you to reflect on your own experiences, interact with your neighbors and friends and their views on historic preservation, and offered to the council and to others what they would envision in the next 50 years for can -- preserving our collective heritage. i would ask you to take a look at the act that is on display in the hallway.
you will be impressed by the language and the passion about historical reservation that was envisioned by those who crafted that legislation signed by president johnson. this is a celebration for all of us who care about history, remembrance, and our collective heritage. i would tell you what has sustained the historic preservation movement thus far, and that is the fundamental approach to the store --servation in the future historic preservation in the future. it is the active involvement by citizens throughout their respective communities. historic preservation at its true core can only be sustained if there is a caring by the people in their respective communities, and their school, in their places of worship and what have you. that is where historic preservation truly takes place. the government cannot be the
preservation. it is the people embracing the importance of our heritage. let me offer you a couple of perspectives that have evolved not only from my tenure as a co-councilmember on the advisory council of the store preservation best of historic preservation. what i have experienced professionally and personally for more than three scores. as a matter fact, this is three one.s, 15 plus my birthday was yesterday.
, though 60 -- that is 60. will they say that doesn't sound right, three quarters of a century old. over that. the desk ihave have have had the chance to interact with 70 people at all levels -- with so many people at all levels, and there is a recognition of the full spectrum of the american experience, and recognizing that part of the business of preservation is preserving real historic places in real-time for this and future generations to see and experience.
that experience, and thousands like it, offer a different scale of purpose. that is the true meaning of historical preservation, to connect us with our own experiences. transform passed into presence, and present to do, giving context to ideas and anchors to experience. the preservation of our historic places is more than a protection of buildings, more than caring for artifacts, structures, and grand landscapes. preservation demonstrates the value of diversity in community that honors and links us with the heritage of our predecessors. furthermore, it represents our individually collective legacies to ours successors desta our successors. we have come to recognize that
our legacy is about learning and teaching, helping our you find a better life at a better place, because we have been here, we have made our contribution. that makes it very necessary that we preserve a sense of tragedy and difficulty in our ,rowth as a people and a nation as well as those representing our great accomplishments. as a great historian and former chairman of the national park system advisory board, who served when i was the director park service, dr. john hope , and in, would remind us quote, "we now know that the places that commemorate
tragedies are places that do not allow ourselves to wallow in remorse, but are places in which we may be moved to a higher resolve to become better citizens, to become better citizens." that is the bottom line of historic preservation, to inspire us, to stimulate us, and to call us to action to become better citizens. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you mr. stanton, and happy birth day. .hank you mr. ayers i would like everyone to join as as thealk or a two or celebrate preservation day. thank you for being here.
[applause] >> interested in american history tv? you can see our upcoming schedule, or watch a recent program. american artifacts, roads to american history rewind and more at c-span.org/history. c-span is visiting your area, illinois, to learn that it's history. our next up is the riverfront museum. we toured the exhibit on the ever-changing illinois river. we are in the illinois river encounter here at the riverfront museum.